UFC action is well underway in 2023, and there are many more fights to come this year. There are currently seven more UFC events planned across the next seven concurrent Saturday Nights, with four UFC fight nights, UFC 285, 268, and 287.
The upcoming action featured a number of headlining fights including, Jon Jones’ return to the octagon against Heavyweight Cyril Gane, a Women’s Flyweight Title matchup between Valnetina Shevchenko and Alexa Grasso, a Welterweight Title rematch between Leon Edwards and Kamara Usman, and a Middleweight Title rematch between Alex Pereira and Israel Adesanya. In addition to this, a number of exhilarating matchups will take place between exciting former champions and up and coming contenders.
With competition events only planned until April 15, the UFC will surely need to add a number of more fights to their 2023 schedule. In order to help them, I’ve decided to come up with a few matchups that UFC needs to make happen in 2023. Although the timelines between fights often look different for every fighter, below are five fights that can realistically occur before the end of the calendar year.
Welterweight – Colby Covington vs. Khamzat Chimaev
Respectfully ranked 2nd and 3rd in the Welterweight class, American Colby Covington and Swede Khamzat Chimaev would be the perfect UFC clash. Covington wanted a shot at the title, but had to wait after Kamaru Usman was defeated by Leon Edwards, and a rematch between the two followed. His wait has been extended, and in the meantime, a fight against Chimaev would be the perfect matchup.
Covington has an impressive 17-3 record, while Chimaev has a similarly dominant resume, with an undefeated 12-0 record. A matchup between these two would surely bring an explosive fight and a clear contender for the next title fight. Possibly the best non-title fight that could occur within UFC at the moment, this fight needs to happen.
Light HeavyWeight – Jamahal Hill vs. Jiri Prochazka
Current light heavyweight champion Jamahal Hill was able to claim the previously vacated Light Heavyweight title after defeating Glover Teixeira by decision in a bout on January 21. The American fighter has compiled a 12-1 record over his years in search of a title.
Now, the next best challenge to Hill’s title, Czech fighter Jiri Prochazka. Prochazka is the 11th ranked pound-for-pound fighter in UFC, compiling a 29-3-1 record, and former Light Heavyweight champion. The Czech fighter won the title in June 2022 against Glover Teixeira, but had to vacate the title after pulling out of the rematch in November 2022.
These are two of the best fighters in UFC and this fight makes sense. Prochazka deserves another shot at the title, and Hill needs to prove his worth as champion by defending his title. Although Hill is just coming off a fight in January, there’s still a lot of time left in 2023 and the UFC needs to make this fight happen.
Bantamweight – Sean O’Malley vs. Aljamain Sterling
This is a matchup that just makes sense. Two of the most exciting fighters in the UFC and the current champion and number two ranked Bantamweight fighters, Aljamain Sterling and Sean O’Malley would be the perfect title matchup.
Current champion, American Aljamain Sterling, has compiled a 22-3 record in UFC and is on an impressive eight fight win-streak. Sean O’Malley has a dominant 16-1 record and is coming off an impressive victory over 2nd ranked Bantamweight fighter Petr Yan. Even though a matchup between Sterling and retired fighter Henry Cejudo is apparently in the works, this is the matchup that makes the most sense and certainly needs to happen in 2023.
Heavyweight – Stipe Miocic vs. Jon Jones
In what would be a matchup against two of the greatest UFC fighters of all time, a Heavyweight matchup between Americans Jone Jones and Stipe Miocic needs to happen. Jones has recently returned to the octagon as a heavyweight and is currently slated to face Ciryl Gane. When asked about what would come after the fight, Jones opened up to the possibility of a matchup against former Heavyweight champion Miocic and remarked, “that it would be an honor”.
Both men have enjoyed noteworthy careers in UFC, as Miocic has enjoyed a 20-4 record with two title wins and four title defenses and Jones has compiled a 26-1 record with two title wins and eleven title defenses. Although Jones is slated to fight in March and Miocic hasn’t fought in over a year, both of these men want this matchup to happen and it would surely be one of the most exciting fights of 2023.
Lightweight- Alexander Volkanovski vs. Islam Makhachev II
After a highly controversial finish in the Lightweight title fight during UFC 284 on February 11, Australian Alexander Volkanovski and Russian Islam Makhachev needs a rematch in 2023. The two men currently rank 1st and 2nd in the UFC pound-for-pound rankings and have proven to be two of the UFC’s premier fighters.
Makhachev, who holds a 24-1 record, currently holds the Lightweight title and has proven to be the fighter to beat in his weight class. Volkanovski is the former Featherweight champion, with a 25-2 career record, and decided to jump up in weight classes to fight Makhachev. Despite it being his first Lightweight bout, Volkanovski proved that he can go toe-to-toe with the best of them.
A Lightweight rematch between the two fighters seems likely, as both men have mutually agreed, and the UFC need to capitalize on this rivalry by adding the second addition to the schedule. This rematch would certainly be one to watch.
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